How did Robert Saleh perform in his first draft with the Jets?
By: Eric Mintzer
After the disastrous 2020 season, the Jets needed to cleanse. First, they axed Gase and signed a new coach, Robert Saleh. Then, they traded Sam Darnold to Carolina. With the second pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Jets decided on a franchise quarterback. But, it is the rest of the draft that made Jet fans happy.
Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
After months of analysis, debate and rumors, it is official. Firmly, the Jets have chosen their franchise quarterback in Zach Wilson. Out of BYU, Wilson provides athleticism, mobility, and experience in a pro style offense. As displayed in a viral video, Wilson can extend plays and connect down field. Clearly, the upside is there because the Jets love Wilson’s talent.
However, critics noted the lower level of competition he faced at BYU. Additionally, cynical Jet fans have seen this script before in 2018. At no fault of his own, Wilson will forever be linked to Trey Lance, Justin Fields and Mac Jones. Optimistically, the Jets have used resources to build around Wilson.
Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT/G, USC
When constructing an NFL offense, it all starts in the trenches. Few relationships in sports are as intimate as a quarterback with his lineman. Well, Zach meet Alijah, Alijah meet Zach. This pick solidified the Jets commitment to protecting their quarterback of the future.
Last season, the Jets drafted OT Mekhi Becton with the 11th overall pick. While Becton excelled as a rookie, the Jets line as a whole was bad. According to Pro Football Focus, the Jets offensive line ranked fourth worst in the NFL. Likely, the Jets will use Vera-Tucker at left guard. With Wilson’s athleticism and an improving line, Jet receivers will have a bounce back year.
2.02 (34th overall)
Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
For each of the past two seasons, Adam Gase has led the Jets to the league’s worst offense. Clearly, the GM Joe Douglass rebuilding from the ground up. After Wilson, franchise quarterback, Vera-Tucker, quarterback protecter, the Jets draft Elijah Moore, quarterback’s new toy.
Seemingly the plan goes: Vera-Tucker and Becton protect Wilson, who places a ball beyond the safeties where only Moore can get it. Truly, Moore provides a deep ball threat. Meanwhile, the Jets added Corey Davis in March, and drafted Denzel Mims a year ago. Together, the Jets have provided Wilson a set of receivers.
4.02 (107th overall)
Michael Carter, RB, North Carolina
After trading their third round pick to Arizona, the Jets next pick came in the fourth round. With that pick, the Jets drafted a star running back in Michael Carter. While Mel Kiper Jr ranked Carter at 83rd overall, the Jets got him at 107. Simply, Michael Carter is an absolute steal for New York.
Instantly, Carter will start for the Jets. New York’s leading rusher a year ago, Frank Gore, retired. While slightly undersized, Carter has elite explosiveness. Additionally, he has decent hands as a receiver, which will prove helpful to a rookie quarterback.
Interestingly, the Jets drafted four offensive players in the first two days of the draft. Then, on day three, the Jets drafted six defensive players. Specifically, five straight players in the secondary, which was a major weakness for New York. Among the three corner backs and two safeties, one pick really stood out.
6.02 (187th overall)
Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State
Before the 2020 season, the Jets traded Pro-Bowler Jamal Adams. Yet, in Nasirildeen, the Jets get a very similar player. At 6’3, Nasirildeen has the size to play a hybrid of linebacker and safety. Like Adams, Nasirildeen is a hard hitting safety that struggles in coverage.
Unfortunately, some teams passed on Nasirildeen because of concern over his injury history. As a result, Nasirildeen dropped from a potential third round pick, to an incredible value in the sixth. At 187th overall, the Jets are getting a player that ESPN had ranked at 102 overall, in Nasirildeen. Essentially, the upside and talent is there for this to be an outstanding pick.
To recap, the Jets got exactly what they needed for a rebuild. First, they went all offensive, drafting a quarterback, lineman, receiver and running back. Then, they took five defensive backs, with hopes that at least one of them becomes a success. Ultimately, the Jets receive an A for building their offense and filling their defense.